Tag Archives: money

Dear Diary, Day of Destiny

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This is at my kid's high school. We are all about being vintage.

This is at my kid’s high school. We are all about being vintage.

Sounds exciting huh? It’s not. Destiny USA is the name of one of our local malls. It is simply an expansion of our old mall which was built on toxic waste dump. I really do not enjoy going to Destiny. It’s big and overpriced and the people it attracts are dumb (present company excluded). I don’t enjoy the atmosphere at all. And I am in continual state of being totally and completely broke so, there’s that.

This week the kids had mid winter recess. My youngest had basketball camp every day in the morning. Wednesday we celebrated her birthday with her friends. We went to The Mall. Worse yet, we went to an overpriced arcade in the mall with really lousy food. But the kids loved it. I almost kicked a mother in the fanny pack and I definitely made ugly faces at the kid who jumped in line ahead of my kid for Mario Kart.  Turn down the lights, turn up the music, add some electronic competition and you get a bunch of giant assholes. Back when I was a kid we could only play Pac Man at the bowling alley or the pizza shop and we had to walk up hill both ways in the snow. With plastic bread bags inside our boots.

Thursday, my 15 year old had The Boyfriend over. They made cookies and she forced him to watch The Notebook. It may not have been The Notebook but every movie the 15 year old watches seems like The Notebook to me. We saw The Monuments Men.Too much George Clooney and smoking but very good movie over all.

We did some other stuff. And some other stuff. It snowed and it rained. I have had nightmares every night for a week. I think I am trying to subconsciously kill myself with cheese.

Oh yeah, and I went to Sochi. The only picture I took was of the tandem toilets. Because Russia.

Oh yeah, and I went to Sochi. The only picture I took was of the tandem toilets. Because Russia.

 

Compared to What?

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People like to tell me I am very positive, upbeat, happy despite it all. I always think to myself “what other choice do I have?” I mean, I guess I could be a miserable, negative bitch who only sees the bad in this life. I suppose that is an option. Maybe I could whine and complain about the way life has kicked me around. But that wouldn’t change anything. That wouldn’t bring back the people I love or protect the people I love or ensure bright futures for the people I love. I choose option A, which is to take what I am given and be grateful, be happy, see the glass as half full….no matter what the glass is half full of.

My BFF called yesterday to tell me she found a letter I had written to her when she was living the single girl life in NYC and I was living the all american dream in upstate ny. I had a house, a husband, a pre-schooler and a baby. In the letter I was telling her about my life thus far. I am sure it sounded just fascinating to her at the time…..

 Back then, for fun, my husband and I would pack up the kids and go for a drive in our 1984 Volvo station wagon. Sounds all sorts of upper middle class I know, but actually, everything on it was broken. It was 1999 and that car had been to the party. Anyway, we would hop in the car and just drive. For hours and miles. Never having a destination in mind, always taking the back roads and stopping at any cool place we could find.

Once we found the most spectacular monastery and church deep in the woods and high on a hill just in time for a beautiful service in the round cathedral. Another time we “found” Pennsylvania accidentally. And yet another time we found ourselves in Albany, our state capital. Now, we were broke because we were young and house poor.So, many times we would find gas stations that served sandwiches and charge our lunch to the gas card. Beacons of common sense we were not.This particular road trip when we stopped for gas, we were dismayed to discover that the gas card was maxed out. Ut oh. We had no gas and 4 hungry humans about 2 and a half hours from home. For my next trick, ladies and gentlemen, I will now perform the Bouncing Check. Watch closely as we drive around to three, count ’em THREE different grocery stores and cash checks for the amount allowed so as to gather cash, get gas and feed the family….

I know, I amazed myself with this one because we had never formally been to Albany before and we had NO idea where the grocery stores even were!! Imagine, this was before GPS, or internet on the cell phone…we were doing this bare handed and without a net!! Impressive. Anyway, after this amazing feat of gathering money, we set out to find a public park to eat and enjoy the beautiful fall day. I was grateful at the time to have been able to find the groceries that cashed checks, I didn’t even know to be grateful for the fact that the stores wouldn’t know about my actual lack of funds till the following day. I couldn’t do that trick today because everything is processed in real-time. The pit falls of an instant society…

 We drove all over Albany looking for a place to park and eat. The longer we drove the crankier we became. After about an hour of looking, as the baby started up with her hungry scream, which always made me sweat, I said “just pull over here!!!” And we did. I unloaded the kids and the food onto the grass, not taking much notice of exactly where we were. I saw grass and a place to park and that was good enough for me! As we began to eat our late lunch and I began to nurse the baby, I finally slowed down enough to take in our surroundings.

We were having a lovely picnic lunch in the middle of a development. We were on a strip of grass in between two streets of houses. You know the kind that the developers put there simply to separate the streets. A narrow strip of grass not intended for picnicking families. I brought up this fact to my husband and we started laughing so hard we couldn’t finish our lunch. About that time,  a man came out of the house directly across from us, gave us a funny look and began to mow his lawn, which made us laugh even harder. The kids started to laugh and next thing we know, we all have to pee. Like NOW!!! There is no “hold it” when it comes to a laughing 4-year-old. There is also no tree in the strip of grass. Again, making do with what we have, I open the car door and position her so that she doesn’t pee on herself or me, laughing hysterically as I do. It doesn’t get better that this, I think to myself.

I wish I was one of the families watching this from their house. I would have died laughing. Or maybe called the police….but after our picnic and bathroom break, we piled back in the car and headed home….

I know the kids don’t remember this trip to the state capital but I will never forget it. Granted, it wasn’t your average trip, but we weren’t your average family by any stretch of the imagination. But really, in that situation, what choice did I really have but to laugh? What was I going to do? Have a panic attack? Cry? Get angry? Over what? I have faith that no matter what or where, we will be taken care of. And we are. 3 years after that, and one more baby in tow, we decided to drive to Ithaca and go hiking in November, with no coats. Common sense was still eluding me at that point. Half way into one of the most beautiful state parks in upstate NY, it began to hail and snow. I used what I had to keep us warm and we  laughed all the way back to the car at our luck and our stupidity. Maybe if we hadn’t been laughing so hard at the hail we would have realized we were lost, and avoided The Losing of the Shoe and The Pricker Bush Escapade of 2004.  

The glass maybe half full of farts but who doesn’t laugh at a fart?

A Fairy Tale Ending

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Once upon a time there was a princess who had been living in abject squalor. She was a princess who knew how to make the best of it. She was given much, but had learned that everything given had a price, even if it was an unseeable price, an immeasurable price. Nothing in life was free, or easy. But this princess was unable to see the bad and the evil. She was innocent of the ways of the powerful. She was a simple girl who loved and desired to be loved.

When the king died, he left his fortune to the princess.This was bittersweet for the princess. Although the king meant to help change the princess’s circumstance, what happened next was not what he intended.Just as she was almost able to see the easier side of life, life beyond grief and constant struggle, enter the Executrix, the Lawyer and the Auctioneer.

The Executrix was appointed by the king at an earlier point in his life. The king wished to honor the Excutrix in a way that would not take from the princess, but yet make the Excutrix feel appreciated for her service to the king in past years. Little did he know that the Excutrix was only ever interested in the money the king had and never in the king himself. While the king lay on his deathbed, he requested time with the Excutrix. She scoffed at him in his dying state and told him lies and left him to die. Her true colors finally showing, she left and did not return until the king had taken his final breath. And before he was even removed from his throne, the Excutrix was already eyeing the many treasures the king had collected. The treasures that were to be passed on to the princess.

In her sorrow, the princess was unabashedly confused and without the council of the king, she turned to the people the king had trusted and left in charge. The Lawyer was one of the king’s closest and most trusted advisors. Naturally, the princess turned to him with question of legal and practical matters. The Lawyer, as it turns out, was just another pretender. He was sloth-like in his handling of the king’s estate. He seemed to want to please the princess, but at the same time, took no responsibility for the legal maneuvers. The princess was not versed in the ways of  the law,therefore was vulnerable to the Lawyer and his manipulative ways. The Lawyer enjoyed drama and seeing angst and anger. He liked to think of himself as the puppeteer and all of the rest of the members of court his own personal puppets to pull and push as he liked.

With no help from the Excutrix, and never able to get a straight answer from the Lawyer, the princess was left to her own devices when it came time to choose an Auctioneer. The king had collected many treasures on his many travels. Too many treasures for the princess to house in her humble dwelling. So, it was decided that an auction would be the way to release many of these treasures back into the world, back to people who would love and appreciate them. The princess kept what she loved from the king’s treasures, that which reminded the princess of the king. And she called the Auctioneer.

The Auctioneer came to appraise and evaluate the king’s collections. He was very excited and motivated by what he saw. The sparkle in his eye rivaled the the best jewels in the king’s collection. Unbeknownst to the princess, the Auctioneer was a criminal of the worst sort. He was worse than a common thief, worse than a lucid beggar. He played upon the grieving, the weak, the old and the naive. He worked from the angle of professional, knowledgable, well meaning friend. Oh, he was wise in the ways of the world. He auctioned off the king’s collection. He gathered a handsome price for the items. Although the princess found little comfort in the dollar amount garnered from the material , she knew the king would have been very pleased with the prices some of the items fetched.

You see, the king didn’t collect his treasures because of their worth, but rather for the love of the object or the story behind it. The king remembered the story behind every item he owned. So, the auction itself was very hard on the princess. It was yet another reminder that the king was gone, no longer to share in the joys of life. The Lawyer was in full support of the Auctioneer and the Excutrix had no opinion on any issue and was still pouting about the revelation that she was not to inherit anything.

I bet you can guess the outcome of this tale of woe. The Auctioneer absconded with the monies from the auction, the Lawyer placed all blame on the Excutrix (or conversely on the princess depending on whom he was telling the story) and the Excutrix became enraged and began stealing the rest of the estate all the while threatening the princess with more and more legal proceedings.

Now, the princess was devastated. First from the loss of the king, then by the spiteful nature of the Executrix and lastly by the duplicitous nature of the trusted Lawyer. The Auctioneer was apprehended but alas, the money was not to be recovered. And try as the princess may, the Auctioneer was not even held accountable for the awful deed. He escaped, again, unpunished. The princess, coming from a humble and meager place was more outraged for the little old ladies who trusted the Auctioneer with the last of their precious treasures to be sold so they may pay the heat bill, or buy a small trinket for their grandchild. Those poor little old ladies who now had nothing to show for their years of careful saving, their precious heirlooms. What to do?

Luckly, the princess learned a beautiful lesson from the king. That money and things do not make a life. That family and love are more important than diamonds. That truth and justice may not be forthcoming, but they always arrive in due time. The princess came to terms with the loss of the treasures. She recognized the Lawyer as someone who is flawed and not trustworthy. She stopped making excuses for the Excutrix behavior and she campaigned on every front for the execution of the Auctioneer’s business.

And she continued to live her life. She honored the king in the ways that matter and she passed on the lesson learned to any who did ask. And she found peace and happiness in her simple life. Oh and she also sued the hell out of all three and got back every cent stolen from her and ruined the reputation of the Excutrix, the Lawyer and the Auctioneer. Moral of the story? Don’t mess with the princess. The End.